VOGUE Talks Natrual Hair With TDE’s SZA ‘My Hair Is Definitely My Saving Grace Where Femininity Is Concerned’ [Details]
Over the past couple of month the New Jersey native has not only captivated fans with her sound why has mesmerized us all with her gorgeous. After falling ill as a teenager, she lost all of her hair from medication-related side effects, and her wild natural curls have been a badge of honor ever since the 24-year-old tells VOGUE.
When did you start wearing your hair so big?
Well I guess I’ve been looking this way since middle school, before big natural hair was even popular. My mom was adamant about not doing anything to my hair. I grew up Muslim, and wore the hijab through middle school. The only girl that I could look to for natural hair inspiration growing up was Lauryn Hill. I wanted dreads but my mom wanted me to wait until I was sixteen, by which time I didn’t want them anymore.
How did you look after your hair growing up?
I broke so many combs and brushes growing up that eventually my mom decided that we should perm it. I was in eighth grade. So all my curls were stretched out and I had these superlong pigtails that fell down my back—but chemical straighteners break your hair, and I ended up going through so many hair transformations from there on. I remember bleaching part of my hair platinum blonde, Cruella De Vil-style, the day before an important meeting with Howard University when I was in eleventh grade. My mom was furious. I also got really ill in high school and my hair fell out because of the medication I was taking.
How did losing your hair affect you?
It’s such a big part of my personality so it was really tough. I hid behind my hair before, but I had nothing to hide behind in that moment. I think the very idea of femininity fell apart for me, but in a good way, because after that, the superficial things didn’t matter so much. None of it mattered. I don’t even shave my legs. Today is the most made-up I’ve ever been in my life. My mom on the other hand, is the classiest woman I know. She has elegant hands, and always gets her nails done. I wonder if I’ll ever grow out of my jerseys and into a lady.
What do you do to look after your hair now?
I like to co-wash, which means washing without a shampoo. I just use a conditioner and coconut oil, and then I rinse my hair with lukewarm water instead of hot water which strips hair of all the moisture. I make my own deep conditioner from coconut oil, avocado, a drop of Pantene’s conditioner for women of color, cinnamon, and tea tree oil. Then I sit and catch up on TiVo’d episodes of Chopped and Iron Chef. If I have time I’ll twist it, but my hair takes days to dry so I usually blow-dry it out with a diffuser instead. I’ll lean over the blow-dryer and divide my hair into four sections, but I never comb it through because it breaks up the curls. I use a silicone-based heat protector to keep it from getting super frizzy, and coconut oil, and that melts in your hand and won’t weigh your hair down either. I haven’t had a chemical relaxer for at least six or seven years.
SZA first solo album, Z, on TDE drops next month.